By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain were in a league of their own as they demolished the United States to win the first ever women's Olympic team pursuit gold in the velodrome on Saturday, continuing the hosts' domination of track cycling.
The trio of Laura Trott, Joanna Rowsell and Dani King blasted around the polished boards accompanied by ear-splitting roars from another capacity crowd, smashing their own world record yet again with a time of three minutes 14.051 seconds.
Trott, at 20 years and 102 days, became the youngest gold medallist in women's events in cycling track at the Olympic Games, breaking the record of Australia's Anna Meares when she won the 500m time trial at Athens in 2004.
Such was their searing pace that at one stage the British team, unbeaten in 2012, were reeling in the U.S. trio of Sarah Hammer, Dotsie Bausch and Lauren Tamayo.
The Americans avoided the humiliation of being caught but still finished more than five seconds back in the 12-lap event.
"Words can't describe how I'm feeling right now. I'm so happy for us all. We came together tonight. We're such an amazing team. We couldn't have done it without each other. I'm just ecstatic," King told reporters.
"Words can't describe it. I've never been so happy in my life. They kept us going in that last kilometre. You couldn't even feel your legs, you were just driving forward."
Britain, who had lowered their own world record twice on the way to the final, added the Olympic crown to the world title they already owned and took Britain's tally of golds on the track to four, with more to look forward to.
Few have been as convincing as Saturday's though.
"It was a great surprise to see them (the Americans) on the last few laps. That's always a bonus, but we were never complacent," Rowsell, who suffers from the hair-loss disorder alopecia, told reporters.
The American trio made a late change to their line-up in the final with Jennie Reed, who rode in the surprise semi-final win over Australia, making way for the fresh legs of Tamayo.
Afterwards the team said they thought that was their best chance of winning a medal, although gold never looked a remote possibility against the British speed machine and vocal fans.
"They were obviously in another league," Hammer told reporters. "But what we wanted to do was to go out and fight until the end because that's what this team has always done."
The mood of euphoria around the velodrome scaled new heights when former Beatle Paul McCartney, who was among the 6,000 crowd, joined in the celebrations by orchestrating a rendition of "Hey Jude" that reverberated around the iconic arena.
In the bronze medal match Canada beat Australia.
The team pursuit event is one of four women's events making their debut at the London Velodrome along with the team sprint, keirin and omnium.
(Additional reporting by Julien Pretot, Editing by Tom Pilcher)